For the next few weeks, the IYM Blog will publish prayers written by a diverse group of contributors who are letting us listen in on their intimate conversations with God. We invite you to read each prayer in this light, with a generosity of spirit and grace, to reflect within yourselves and with the young people in your care on the following questions:
-How does this prayer help me think differently about God?
-What are the concerns that are informing this person’s theology?
-How does this prayer reframe issues in ways I had not before considered?
For further context to this series, please visit Prayers of the People: An Introduction.
An adaptation and response to Psalm 139.
O Lord, you know me with a thoroughness that frightens me while also freeing me to be fully and truly myself. You know where I am going and where I have been. You know my thoughts, my motivations, and all that remains unspoken and unspeakable within me. And still you are with me; you have not forsaken me. I do not understand all of the mysteries of your knowledge, but I want to trust you. I want to hope in you.
If I think, “This is the end of me and people like me; there is no one who will come to my aid,” even then, you have not abandoned me. The weight of my oppression is mere dust to you, easily blown away with a breath of your spirit.
Where on earth can I possibly go that would remove me from your care? If I do not have a place to lay my head at night, surely you are there as I walk the streets and find a doorway to sit and rest for a while. If I am sick and unable to afford a doctor’s care, surely you are my comforter and my help. If I am removed from my family and friends, if I am imprisoned and unable to speak up for myself, if I am falsely accused of being a danger to others even when I myself am in danger, I know that you have not forgotten me. I know you see me and know me and are with me in my time of trial.
If I think, “This is the end of me and people like me; there is no one who will come to my aid,” even then, you have not abandoned me. The weight of my oppression is mere dust to you, easily blown away with a breath of your spirit. For you are my creator, forming me from the substance of the earth and breathing life and freedom into my lungs. I give thanks to you, with every ounce of my being, for my every atom and molecule held in place by your loving will. I try to comprehend such mercy—I cannot. Your great mystery remains at the core of the universe.
So I cry out to you: eliminate the forces of evil in this world that would seek to destroy me, O my God. Save me from those who would undermine my humanity, who would denigrate the beauty of your creation within me. Shield me from their hatred and their idolatry of money and power and control. As though you did not also grant their every breath by the same mysterious mercy that grants me mine! Do I not become enraged at their tyranny, O Lord? Do I not proclaim your Truth and Justice in the face of such faithless “law and order”? I do not trust them. I consider their ideology dangerous and repugnant.
But I am not blameless, and you know that well. Reveal to me the places where I am wrong. Heal my heart of its hatred and rage. Help me to listen for the pain and suffering of my fellow humans and to do all in my power to uphold their dignity. Let your perfect love drive out the fear within me, that I may bring life and light to those around me.
Megan DeWald is the Assistant Director of the Institute for Youth Ministry, where she runs the Certificate in Youth and Theology program and manages digital content. Previously, Megan served as the Site Coordinator of the PCUSA’s Young Adult Volunteer program in Nashville, Tennessee. With 15 years of youth ministry experience, Megan is passionate about cultivating leaders in the Church.